Statement of the International Migrants on Alliance International Migrants Day
December 18 2014
For reference: Eni Lestari, IMA chairperson (+852-96081475)

Struggle for genuine development and justice for migrants and the people! Struggle and win!

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) commemorates this year’s International Migrants Day with greater resolve to advance the struggle for the protection of our rights and dignity, the end to modern-day slavery and the resolution of the root causes of forced migration.

 Erwiana Sulistyaningsih is the image of this struggle that we are pursuing steadfastly.

Erwiana is the young Indonesian domestic worker who was subject to physical abuse and torture from her employer in Hong Kong last year. Her sufferings depict the countless number of physical abuse, harassment and intimidation, exploitation and oppression that many migrant workers experience. Her strength and will to fight for justice in her ongoing case against her employer also symbolizes the willingness of migrants – migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees, immigrants – to collectively fight.

 It is her sufferings that belie the pronouncements of development in the world today. She and the 232 million international migrants paint the real picture of forced migration – both a symptom and the result of the intensifying, protracted and prolonged crisis of imperialism.

Neoliberal globalization has caused this phenomenon and continues to aggravate it. The implementation of neoliberal policies has only led to massive landlessness, deindustriualization, environmental degradation and wave upon wave of global economic crisis that caused the dissolution of public services and utilities, skyrocketing of prices of goods, displacement of peoples, unemployment and abject poverty. Without work or salaries to live their families by, many are forced to find work abroad – a phenomenon that many governments have developed into labor export policy.

It is with the same neoliberal framework that the leaders within the United Nations are also aiming to optimize migration for development. Instead of addressing the root causes of forced migration, they only mean to maximize the remittances sent by migrants and facilitate migration all in the name of development. As governments beautify slavery by promoting migration for development through the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), the situation of migrants has only worsened over time. Migrants experience oppression in the workplace, visa restrictions, arrest and deportation, social exclusion, among others.

But there can be no genuine development for the people under this current system. A system that prioritizes capitalist profit over the rights, demands and dignity of peoples. A system that lets modern-day slavery and oppression to prevail.

Yet we are strengthened, inspired and with firm resolve to fight this system. We are strengthened by the likes of Erwiana who have decided to stand up against oppression and abuse. We are inspired by the late Irene Fernandez who has committed her life in defending the rights of migrants and challenging a system of oppression. We are filled with resolve as many migrants all over the world decide to be organized and collectively advance the international migrant movement.

Next year 2015 we will bring the battles in all fronts. We will engage governments of both our host and home countries and challenge them to junk anti-migrant laws and create ones that ensure the protection of our rights and stop oppression and discrimination. We will engage in the international debates and platforms and expose and oppose their scheme to make migration as a tool for development. We will enjoin and encourage all migrants, our families and our local brothers and sisters to strengthen solidarity and demand an end to modern-day slavery and forced migration.

Because we are worth more than the remittances and dollars we send. Because we are workers, not slaves.